Caught in the Act of Generosity: Connie Molecke
by Christina Socorro Yovovich of the Rad Gen Committee
Around 40 years ago, Connie Molecke’s five-year-old son Greg yearned to be in Sunday School like his friends. Connie was from a Christian background and her husband Marty was an atheist with a Jewish background. They went church shopping and found First Unitarian. Connie worked at Albuquerque Public Schools as a speech and language pathologist and she says there was a five-year period when her sons were teenagers that she worked so much the family drifted away from the church, but they then returned.
Connie’s volunteerism has roots in communities beyond First U. When her sons were in Debate in high school, she was one of the volunteer moms who helped the program to thrive. And she has been very active in volunteer work to support the local autistic community. At First U, she has served as the director of the adult classes for ESL for the past eight years, developed the Citizenship class curriculum, and started those classes four years ago. She says many students who attend the classes are refugees, women in their thirties and forties who have never been to school. They are from the church’s neighborhood; often their children attend the church’s tutoring program. The classes are a church priority, with support in the budget as well as additional donations from members. Connie is proud that to date 37 students of the Citizenship classes have passed the citizenship test, and that if there is need, the church also helps students to pay for the test. She loves to see the progress of the students, and the parties at the end of the semester often make her cry at hearing their families applaud them.
Connie and Marty were married for 54 years. Marty passed in November of 2022 and since then she has been learning to live with grief. A friend of the church, Kathy Intemann, stepped up and currently serves as co-director of the ESL and Citizenship classes. Connie was advised by a mental health professional to not keep serving as co-director, but she said, “I can drop everything else… but I don’t want this program to fall apart.” She also says of her volunteering, “It’s my joy, It’s my passion.” Students come in scared sometimes, and she makes them laugh, helps them to feel more comfortable, and she leaves at the end of the night with a full heart.